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Repairing the repaired!


#1

I recently sold a ring to a new client in Canada. All went well, all
was happy, until I got the following email today.

Just a quick update on the ring. My partner loved it first of
all. We sized it down here in Vancouver so now it fits snugly.
That is the good news. The bad news is that the people she
took it to damaged it (the diamond part is pushed down and
there is some ‘scuff’ marks on the gold surrounding it). My
partner never asked them to do anything except size it down but
these jewelers took it upon themselves to shine the ring and in
the process damaged it.

Anyways I am wondering if it would be worthwhile if you had a
look at it to see if it can be repaired or if you even do that
kind of thing. We would pay for all repairs and shipping of
course. Please let me know.

The rest of the story:

To see the ring in question go to:

or, go to: carlamfox.com>gallery>rings>scroll to bottom, it is the
middle ring in the 3 Diamond ring image.

The ring is etched 22g sterling silver, w/ 22k gold bi-metal-the bi-
metal was textured. The shank is sterling also.

I engineer these rings tough. There is a heavy walled sterling tube
under the diamond that I set the stone in. I set that stone to stay
& did a damn fine job of flush setting it, without damaging the
texture on the bi-metal.

I did tell the client these rings are almost impossible to size down
because of how they are constructed, and sent it to him in a smaller
size then he requested, hoping it would fit, and/or it would need to
be size up.

The etched calyx pod is hollow.

I am at a loss as to what would have damaged the bi-metal, and
pushed down the diamond.

I am having him send it to me, so I can see what the damage is.

My first thought is that the whole ring will have to be remade. I
can’t unset that diamond and reset it back in the original way if
the setting is damaged. I can’t buff out the “scuffs” on the bi-metal
as it is textured and buffing could remove the gold.

I have no more of the etched metal. I would have to re-etch some. (I
have been avoiding this as when I etch it takes a better part of a
week to purchase several sheets of 22g sterling, prepare the metal,
get the chemicals, set up my etching system, and then etch. Time and
money is in short supply right now.)

My question is, who’s responsible to pay for this mess? How to
proceed? I’ve never had a ring damaged like this, because some ham-
handed jewelry store didn’t know what they were doing.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcomed.

Carla in a muddle
www.carlamfox.com


#2

You would be a fool to do anything other than remake or repair the
ring at their expense and taking whatever time you need even if you
do it next year. Not being able to see the ring in person, I would
consider removing the diamond and see if you could fix the texture
on the gold bi-metal, solder in a tube setting and reset the diamond.
You could reset the diamond in the tube setting and solder that back
in if you know what you are doing. A fine grit diamond ball bur with
a very light touch might fix the scuff on the bi-metal, or steel
wool.

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
Denver


#3

What has happened to the business I have devoted my life too for the
past twenty five years ? Why has it gone the way it has? I remember
when a person could make a living working for someone else, but not
anymore. I have done everything and am very well versed. I have
worked in stores, owned my own stores as well as a small
manufacturing business. Now I am working for a large chain, and shake
my head daily. They bring in young people with three weeks experience
to manage a store? Why? Talk about discrimination.

Sincerely Lou in CT.


#4

Carla, you are right, this is a mess.

You did warn the customer about the impossibility of sizing the ring
down, so you are off the hook regarding any damage that occured
during
resizing… The fact that they went ahead and had it sized down anyway
shows poor judgement on their part.

You asked for suggestions, so here goes. I would remind the client
that you did advise them about the fact that sizing the ring down
would probably be impossible.

If after you receive the ring and have a chance to examine it, and
determine that it is not possible to fix, I would advise the client
of the impossibilty of making a repair,and I would return the damaged
ring to them.

As they merely asked about repairing the ring, I would suggest that
you not bring up the matter of making a new one. As one who etches, I
know full well the time involved in such a project. Even with
materials on hand, it takes quite a bit of time just to get things
set up. Setting things up for just one ring, is a poor use of your
time.

Finally, I don’t believe whoever made the repairs and subsequent
damage is entirely culpable as in all probability they were never
told
that the clients had been advised against having it sized down.

The fault lies with the client who had a been advised that the ring
could not be sized down, but chose to ignore this, and proceeded to
have it done.

Alma Rands


#5

It sounds like the people who sized the ring are responsible for the
damage, and it’s quit obvious that they don’t know how to repair it.
Also, they would probably send it back to the original manufacturer
of the ring( You) and pay for it themselves.

One thing to consider and it’s just a thought… Maybe your customer
damaged it themselves and are trying to pin it on the ones who sized
it. It’s not beyond the relm of consideration here. I’ve been in the
repair, design and manufacturing business for 25 yrs. and have seen
it many, many times. I once set a 14x12 mq. Saph. in a ring with V
prongs, repaired it with a prong on each side because the customer
was very rough on it, then after a year the customer brought back to
my client who sold the piece and said that I chipped the saph. under
one of the new prongs!!! When I saw it I couldn’t believe it, AFTER
A YEAR? So upon examination I saw a piece of wood STILL under the
prong at the spot of damage where they had either hit it on
something wooden or got it caught in some sort of door !! It was
UNBELIEVABLE! You may want to ask them if they showed it to the
people who sized the ring and what they are going to do about it. If
their answer is NO, be very careful!!! They more than likely damaged
it themselves and are trying to blame someone else. Why didn’t the
just send it back to you in the first place?


#6
My question is, who's responsible to pay for this mess? How to
proceed? I've never had a ring damaged like this, because some
ham- handed jewelry store didn't know what they were doing. 

In my book, this is now the customer’s problem, but then I’m really
pretty clear about my guarantees. I guarantee everything I make for
life, no questions asked, as long as I’m the only jeweler working on
the piece. As soon as they take it to someone else the warranty is
pretty much void.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#7

Hello Carla, I think you should tell them with a smile to not worry
and that you will take care of the ring. Either make a new one or
repair it, which ever seems easiest to you. Charge them some small
amount and you will have loyal customers forever. You get to be the
hero of the story and they will tell everyone they know how great you
are. Besides, you really don’t want anyone else screwing up your
creation, do you?

Tom Arnold


#8

Hi Carla,

NONE of this is your responsibility. The buyer should have consulted
you before taking it elsewhere to have it sized. I always tell my
clients that if they want something resized or altered in some way, I
will not be responsible for damage caused by other shops besides my
own. Secondly, you TOLD them that it could not be resized. I would,
if it were me, write and tell them that it cannot be repaired (if you
don’t think it can be). I’m also baffled as to how the shop that
repaired it screwed up the setting so badly. I have to wonder if they
tried to switch out stones? Paranoid? Perhaps. But, there is no
reason for them to have to touch that bezel.

Good luck! I hope this works out for you.

Jennie


#9
Finally, I don't believe whoever made the repairs and subsequent
damage is entirely culpable as in all probability they were never
told that the clients had been advised against having it sized
down. 
The fault lies with the client who had a been advised that the
ring could not be sized down, but chose to ignore this, and
proceeded to have it done. 

I can’t really agree totally with this. While clients were told,
they aren’t jewelers, and can’t be expected to fully understand what
is or is not feasable. It’s reasonable to expect any professional
jeweler to know his or her own limits, and to take responsibility for
their own accidents. Whether they knew the clients had been advised
not to have the ring sized down is not for me, an issue. They should
have been able to make their own judgments. Accidents, however,
happen. Perhaps, for example, the sizing went fine, but the jeweler
lost hold of it while polishing, and it slammed into the back of the
polishing hood. That could be how the diamond section got pushed in
and scuffed. (Proper and prudent polishing after sizing wouldn’t have
needed to affect the finish at the top at all) An accident. We’ve all
had them. Not really the fault of the client, or the decision to size
the ring, but in the end, the jeweler who messed it up is still on
the hook for the problem unless they advised the client before hand
that there were risks… Looking at the photo of the ring, I don’t
frankly see any big reason why I’d refuse to size the ring down,
other than explaining to the customer that it would negatively affect
the shape/profile of the shank by making the bottom section shorter,
thus distorting the shape. I’d not expect it to affect the top design
section of the ring at all. Laser welding the sizing seam would avoid
heat problems, or barring that, even with a torch I’d not have
trouble heat sinking the top adequately. So the messed up top
section has to have either been an unforseen accident, such as the
polishing mishap, or simply neglegent workmanship by an
insufficiently qualified jeweler. Either way, I can’t blame that on
the client. It’s just too bad they didn’t heed the warning of the
artist, and contact her first for advice.

Just my two cents.
Peter


#10
My question is, who's responsible to pay for this mess? 

Unless there was a defect in material or workmanship I don’t think
you’re on the hook. You could, if you so choose, do it free as a
favor to a client. Hold on to your customers.

because some ham- handed jewelry store didn't know what they were
doing. 

Might be better to reserve judgement til 1) you actually see the
ring, 2) you determine it was indeed the work of ham handers(some
customers just won’t say they themselves damaged it).

Looking at the ring, I don’t see why it couldn’t be successfully
sized up or down. What’s the complicating factor?


#11

Reading the letter I see that the customer has already said that
they will pay for the repair. They have also inquired if it is
repairable, and asked if you even do this sort of repair work. It
sounds to me as if they are prepared for you to turn them down flat.
They have nothing to lose by asking. they could easily be hoping to
get someone else to be responsible for their own mistakes. I see
this all the time, doing service and repair. Just yesterday I saw
three rings beaten up so badly the shanks had a unique crushed and
hammered finish, and stones in all three were destroyed. The
customer looked us right in the eye and said that she never wears
them, and that she never hits her hands against anything if she does
wear them! I’m pretty sure that she really knew ahead of time that
she would be paying for the repairs, but she tried pushing us on the
off chance that we could be manipulated.

I too would have not turned away your ring for sizing, but would
have first suggested that it be returned to the manufacturer for
sizing, and if they were not willing to go this route, I would have
warned them that any risks would be their responsibility. I would
expect no real problem sizing such a ring, but as an obviously hand
crafted sterling ring I would have proceeded with caution.

Having said that I see no real reason it should have been damaged in
sizing, unless the stone was loosened in the process and someone got
way too ham handed in trying to tighten the flush setting and
slipped, damaging the gold surface in the process. Or as suggested it
got away in the polishing machine, but looking at the ring I’d
expect the entire hollow silver “shell” to have been caved in if
this was the case, and that does not sound like the case.

Any way you look at it the damage is in no way your responsibility
to correct, unless you choose to do so. If I run my new Honda into a
tree, or if I take it to someone not authorized to service it and
they destroy the motor, then I’m quite sure that Honda won’t assume
responsibility for the damages. If my car dealer were to then
correct such damages anyway, then I would have to pay dearly for
those repairs. I often use this car example to address an
unreasonable customer, such as the one I mentioned above, as for
some reason they understand why car dealers aren’t responsible for
their bad decisions, but often expect craftspeople to "cover"
customer’s errors out of our own pockets.

Good luck. If they bring you the ring I’d love to see a photo of the
actual damage, to better understand what we’re discussing. A
customer’s words quite often leave me with a very different picture
in my mind than what I’ll see when I get the actual piece in front of
me. I’ll never forget my partner 20 years or so ago telling a pushy
customer over the phone to hold his ring up next to the phone, and
then telling the customer, in a dead serious voice that he’d better
bring it in as it looked like it badly needed repairs.


#12
I'm also baffled as to how the shop that repaired it screwed up the
setting so badly. I have to wonder if they tried to switch out
stones? Paranoid? Perhaps. But, there is no reason for them to have
to touch that bezel. 

Are you kidding? What is that, a 5 point diamond? Yes, I would say
you are paranoid, unless you didn’t look at the picture.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


#13

This is all very helpful. Answers to your questions.

This customer found me on the internet & lives in Canada. He had it
sized up there (my conjecture) because shipping the ring back and
forth between countries is very expensive.

The calyx pod is set into the shank, not perched on top. Any
movement of the shank from side to side could affect the pod. This is
assuming they made a cut at 6 o’clock and tried to pull it together,
instead of 2 cuts at 9 & 3 o’clock and just moved up the shank.

I wear a similar version of this ring. The diamond & gold are sunk
below the level of the etched metal. I can’t imagine this is rough
wear. But I will leave that door open. I do make things sturdy as I
am hard on rings. Also, Peter would a flung ring have damaged the
pod, as it was protecting the diamond.

The shank is designed to fit nicely against the side fingers. The
ring hole is round, with the shank set on its side instead of flat I
never size down. It distorts the design and its function. Could
round balls of silver soldered in the donut hole of the ring, at 4
and 7 o’clock, helped make the ring tighter…instead of altering the
shank?

It should come back on Monday. I will photograph it, examine it, and
see what comes next. This seems like a very nice customer, tho’ I
doubt given the distance and difficulties he will be a repeat
customer. But who knows. I just want everyone happy. But I also
can’t afford to work for free…

Carla


#14

Hi Carla,

First of all, I’d suggest you not panic until you have something to
panic about (not that you’re actually panicking). Wait until you see
the ring, it’s likely that things are not as bad as they sound. But
if they are, I think you should just be completely honest with your
clients. Tell them if you need to remake the ring, explain the
additional costs involved and pass them along to them as fairly as
you can. Reasonable people will understand that they ruined the ring
and the replacement costs are their responsibility. If they love the
ring they will likely take the extra cost as a lesson learned.

Alternative resolutions, perhaps they will wait until you are making
this style again, or be willing to take another one of your pieces
as a replacement (they would have to pay for that of course).

Anyway, I always go with direct, honest explanations. Most people
respect that even if they don’t like the message.

Mark


#15

I agree entirely with Peter. I’ve worked at the bench in small trade
shops, repair facilities and stores (where we made everything). It
was the rare jeweler who stepped beyond the bounds of "classic"
jewelry finishes: sandblast, “brush”, hammer and of course polish.

Please understand: This is in no way intended to slam those working
in a “classic” sensibility. It is not a judgment of style or
craftsmanship or sophistication. It’s simply that are "default"
finishes that are intrinsic to the biz and are the most popular. A
really good jeweler with years under his or her belt might be able to
replicate or approximate a certain strange finish but a more callow
jeweler, newer to the bench, might not have the ability…

I have had my work ruined by other jewelers who simply misunderstood
what I had done or, as Peter said, stepped beyond their comfort and
experience level. Sometimes finishes and processes are so
specifically executed that no one–no matter what their experience
level-- could hope to replicate it. It simply must go back to the
original maker if possible.

Take care,
Andy


#16

I think that I would probably just ask the customer what their
expectations are on this ring situation, and then clearly and
politely let them know what parts of their expectations that I can
fulfill. I think it would be smart to avoid fingerpointing and
simply establish what their position is, as well as yours. If they
agree with your position, everything is great. If not, then you
probably don’t need this type of customer anymore. Alot of people
will ask for less than they really want if you simply ask them ‘what
do you want’. Pursuing conflict is usually not high on most people’s
lists. Those that do enjoy conflict are usually the kind that you are
better off losing their patronage. And don’t worry about what they
might say to others. Let your integrity, reputation, and skills speak
for themselves.

Ed


#17
You did warn the customer about the impossibility of sizing the
ring down, 

I’m with Neil - I see no reason whatever why it couldn’t be sized up
or down at will. Pretty standard stuff, actually. Whether YOU can or
not is up to you, but it’s obvious the fault for the botched job
lies with the one who did it. Whether one wants to be more lenient
and offer the client some juice is up to them…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18
I think you should tell them with a smile to not worry and that
you will take care of the ring. Either make a new one or repair it,
which ever seems easiest to you. Charge them some small amount and
you will have loyal customers forever. You get to be the hero of
the story and they will tell everyone they know how great you are.
Besides, you really don't want anyone else screwing up your
creation, do you? 

I disagree that this customer would be a loyal customer forever…

My guarantee on my work is very broad. I do a lot of things in my
store that create customer loyalty and word of mouth referrals. But
taking responsibility for another jewelers damage is out of the realm
of where I want to be.

I think you should repair the ring for the customer but charge your
standard fee for the job. If it needs to be remade completely, I’d
suggest pricing it as well as possible for the replacement but still
charge and explain that you would have done it at no charge had they
returned it to you to do the work in the first place.

Every warranty I’ve ever seen is void if you do it yourself first
then ask for help.

Good luck,
Mark


#19

Hi Carla,

I was able to see the picture, with John’s help, and there be a
simple answer to some of the problems with the sizing…Moving beyond
the issue of the result, you will need to work with your customer and
see if you can either repair or re-make the ring…My guess is that in
sizing down, the stone loosened and they tried to tighten it. The
ring will look out of round, slightly(check for sizing seam), the
marks on top -may be burnish able, and the finish can be re-done, as
stated by others.Maybe there was a polishing accident or maybe they
were in over the heads. You need to see the piece first to access but
let your customer know that you are willing to work with them on
correcting the problem. Again, as stated by others, this is a chance
to rise above the problem and yet, maintain good will…Should you do
this for free ??–that’s up to you…I would probably try to give them
a break and have them pay a special price, depending on the extent of
the work needed to be done. If it’s not too bad, I would be tempted
to just charge a minimum $$$. Beautiful work by the way!!!

Hope this helps,
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan in sunny SF,CA
http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#20
The calyx pod is set into the shank, not perched on top. Any
movement of the shank from side to side could affect the pod. This
is assuming they made a cut at 6 o'clock and tried to pull it
together, instead of 2 cuts at 9 & 3 o'clock and just moved up the
shank. 

If in sizing a ring down, you cut out the required amount and just
squeeze the sides together, then yes, the top can distort. But this
is pretty basic stuff. Pliers, properly used, can be used to limit
the bending required to close the opening to bending just on the
side, even with the shape of shank of this ring. It’s silver, after
all. Butter, compared with some of the harder gold alloys, and any
jeweler with a bit of repair experience shouldn’t have trouble
keeping from distorting the top if his or her brain cells were turned
on and working before starting the job.

I wear a similar version of this ring. The diamond & gold are sunk
below the level of the etched metal. I can't imagine this is rough
wear. But I will leave that door open. I do make things sturdy as
I am hard on rings. Also, Peter would a flung ring have damaged the
pod, as it was protecting the diamond. 

It it hit the pod just wrong, then yes. Keep in mind that the
surface of a larger buff, say five inches in diameter, is moving at
around 50 mph, and a ring caught by the buff and flung to the back of
the polishing hood is moving just as fast. Damaging a recessed area
is less common, but it depends on what and how it hits.

The shank is designed to fit nicely against the side fingers. The
ring hole is round, with the shank set on its side instead of flat
I never size down. It distorts the design and its function. Could
round balls of silver soldered in the donut hole of the ring, at 4
and 7 o'clock, helped make the ring tighter...instead of altering
the shank? 

Sizing a ring like this down, if the top cannot be bent to avoid
damage, of course then means the ring cannot be kept with a fully
round finger hole. That normally doesn’t affect the comfort, or in
many cases, even the look of the ring when worn. The finger hole
becomes a little oval, or flatter across the top. The main difference
in your ring is the distance across the bottom would decrease,
changing the shape a bit. Normally, this is much more bothersome to
the aesthetic sense of the designer of the ring than it is to the
customer, or to the function and utility of the ring. Non round
finger holes sometimes fit even better, reducing any tendancy of the
ring to turn on the finger if too loose. The difference in shape is
small in terms of the way the shank would ride against adjacent
fingers, so that’s not much of an issue. If this distortion is a
real problem, then it’s equally possible to size the ring with two
cuts of half the amount, one on each side of the ring, instead of
just one on the bottom. One could even do it in three places if
needed. Bottom and both sides. This still doesn’t leave the finger
hole round, if the top curve can’t be altered, but in some rings, the
result is a preferable shape. Still, keep in mind that in many cases,
the amount of material to be removed isn’t much. If the ring had to
go down a half size, for example, only 1.25 mm of material would need
to be removed at the bottom. That’s not much change in the overall
shape of the ring.

In those rings where the shape cannot be changed (often because
stone settings would be too altered, either endangering the stones,
or loosening them too much, or other problems) then you can indeed
size a ring down with a sleeve, especially for larger reductions, or
either small balls or “speed bumps” (like the balls in idea, but
hemicylender shapes fitted into the shank rather than fully round
balls. The speed bumps aren’t as sharp feeling on the finger, so
might be more comfortable. Not everyone finds small balls to be
comfortable… A caveat is that “sizing balls” or speed bumps don’t
make a very big difference in the ring size. They make the ring
slightly smaller, perhaps a quarter size most of the time, but mostly
work to reduce the ring’s turning on the finger. Sometimes that’s all
that’s needed, especially with a ring like yours where the shank is
fairly thin. Wider ring shanks, less likely to turn on the finger,
might not find sizing balls to be all that effective.

Again, the degree to which any of this works well with a given ring
is largely a matter of whether the jeweler takes the time to examine
the structure of the ring before doing anything, and makes sure he
or she understands the engineering of what they’re going to change.
What will bend, and where, and how shape changes will affect other
parts of the ring. It’s pretty intuitive once you think to look for
it, but some beginners in jewelry repair just jump in and cut, not
checking first to be sure they’re not damaging the ring. It’s a
variation of the old theme, “measure twice, cut once.”

Hope this helps.
Peter